Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


American opinions are split on genetically engineered food


While more than two-thirds of the food in U.S. markets contains at least some amount of a genetically engineered (GE) crop, researchers want to know if Americans consider GE food a health risk or benefit.

The result: Americans are split on the issue, but they have become slightly more skeptical over the past three years, according to a new study from Cornell University.

"Depending on whom you ask, the technology is either beneficial or has negative effects on health and environment," said James Shanahan, associate professor of communication at Cornell and lead researcher of the study.

Generally, women and non-Caucasians perceived higher risk in using biotechnology in food production than men and Caucasians. And politically, Republicans showed more overall support for GE foods than others, he said.

John Besley, one of Shanahan’s collaborators and a Cornell doctoral candidate in communication, presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science today (Feb. 19). The third co-author is Erik Nisbet, also a Cornell doctoral candidate in communication.

The study included four annual national surveys from 2003 to 2005 (with samples of about 750 respondents each year) and three annual surveys of New Yorkers from 2003 to 2005 (about 850 respondents each year). The national survey measured support for GE food using a scale from 1 to 10, while the New York survey used a similar scale to measure the perceived health risks of GE food.

"The results of the state and national surveys were very consistent with each other," said Shanahan. "And both showed a slight but significant shift over time toward a little less support and more risk perception."

Specifically, the mean response for support for biotechnology was 5.6 (on a 1-10 scale) in the first year of the surveys, indicating that people were evenly divided in supporting, opposing or being undecided; by 2005, the mean declined slightly to 5.2. Similarly, the mean response for risk perception increased to 6.1 in 2005 from 5.4 in the first year.

The researchers also found that people who pay more attention to the news tend to support GE food more than those who don’t.

"Overall, research shows that GE foods are safe and effective, though some people still harbor reservations about it," said Shanahan. "I suspect that the more people are exposed to the news, the more aware they are of biotechnology and, therefore, more supportive of it."

The New York data were collected by Cornell’s Survey Research Institute (SRI), which conducts survey research on par with other academic research facilities. The national data were collected during a research methods course in cooperation with SRI.

Shanahan serves as the co-director of the public issues education project, Genetically Engineered Organisms. The project has an extensive Web site for consumers about GE crops and foods, including information on what foods are most frequently engineered (corn and soybeans, followed by canola and cotton, from which cottonseed oil is derived), which traits have been engineered, regulations, and media coverage and opinions about GE foods.

Blaine Friedlander Jr. | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'
16.03.2018 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht Scientists map the portal to the cell's nucleus
16.03.2018 | Rockefeller University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>